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Outkaster

Playing backyard parties

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How do you guys feel about backyard parties? We got asked to do two. One is the bass players family member and we have one coming up for a friend. Logistically these all seem to be a pain in the ass. You end up on a driveway or uneven ground. You can’t drive near the back yard, not enough power, no stage and so forth. I feel people are split down the middle on this. Some members feel we should play if we are getting paid. Personally I think it cheapens the band and if someone finds out that you have done one cheap for a client than it can hurt you down the road. When you play regional festivals like we do to play at a back yard party where people don’t often give a {censored} is a let down.

 

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There is just something so "high school" about these type of events and some of the members feel that they don't want to be wall flower music.

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I have played a few. Everyone should get paid for their time and their talents unless it is a charity gig. Make sure neighbors are cool with it, check the weather report, and have fun!

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First off playing for family/friends is more likely the issue, not that its a private party. They probably are looking for cheap "as a favour".

 

We have done private parties both at peoples houses and at outside venues and get paid roughly what we make at a standard bar gig.

 

The other thing is (and I hate using this word) but you do get exposure. We did a house party last July and ended up getting a private party for the Trailer Park Boys cast out of it in November. You never know who might be there. Just dont bargain price it too much, especially if its not something you'd want to make a habit of doing.

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I do private parties as a solo, and in that respect, not an issue; I charge the same [sometimes a lot more for 'logistics issues-see below'] as I would a coffeehouse or small restaurant. But, a backyard party for a band? I have done them as a 'personal favor' to the band leader [who is still expected to pay me my sideman rate], but I would not book my bands for those because of the logistics...bare cement is a grounding issue, inadequate/hard to reach/dirty power, non elevated stage...and the assumption by the drunks in attendance that they can grab a mic or a guitar when we are on break...because it is a partay!

 

If you are doing it as a 'favor'...then make sure you get a good look at the place before you go to set up, and the host knows how big a 'favor' you are doing; set the ground rules with the host in absolute terms, because their homeowners'/renters' policies most likely will not cover the band members, the gear, etc. Let's face it, most non-band players have absolutely no clue as to what it takes to set up a band.

 

On the occasions I've done it as a sideman, the AC power-related issues alone were nightmarish. I recall one was a house so old that all the wall sockets were ungrounded 2 prong...another one where a GFI was faulty and kept tripping, shutting off the PA...one where [fortunatelyas I typically do] I tested the outlet and found it was wired backwards [i helped the owner rewire it, and let him use my tester, there were several miswired outlets in his house] Another issue is the actual set-up location; I remember one where we were supposed to set up on the patio, but the only door in/out of the house into the yard was there, meaning a constant stream of people walking right through the 'stage area'...and so on.

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I've played at a few. The main issues are making sure (in advance) that you know where you'll be setting up, and what the AC situation is, etc.

 

Another potentially big issue that I haven't seen mentioned yet: Noise complaints. Probably a good idea to remind the host that they should clear the event with all of their neighbors and make sure they know there will be a band playing. Other than that, watch your own SPLs and keep the volume under control. Your normal stage setup may be overkill for a backyard gig...

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We charge more for private parties. Bars we play at are our regular customers and most book us at least 3 or 4 gigs at a time. A party is a 1 time deal and there can be issues with power and set up, etc.

 

I play a friend's block party every year with a pick up band of guys I jam with ( mostly Grateful Dead because she is a big Deadhead) and for that we pay the guys $100 each and I do it for free and for fun.

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I think of it in terms of a couple scenarios: any serious band I'm in operates like a business and so there is a set fee and the "venue/homeowner" needs to provide certain setup space, power requirements, etc.. But there's the second case where it may be more for family, friends or as a favor in which I/we might play for a reduced rate or even for free, scale way back on equipment and be more loose with songs, set lists and breaks.

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Played a 30 year H.S. reunion on 9/29. Host had distributed flyers to the neighbors. Weather was perfect. Backyard in the heart of an affluent neighborhood. Catered food and libations too, but I could not drink because of meds. :( Friend of ours and his sound company provided PA. We began about 8:30 p.m., a few breaks and played until 10:45 when police shut us down. Rock on!

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The last yard party I played was memorable. They picked me up in a white limo. Nice neighborhood. The crowd was attentive. They had a high end grand piano. . . . but the gig seemed like it went on forever!!!!

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Current band I play in isn't out yet so I will talk about the last band I was associated with. Our area has pretty fair weather for a lot of the year so we did a LOT of outdoors shows. Some were regional or larger events, and a lot of the rest were local events with good sized crowds. We were fortunate to have a wealthy guy who basically owned the band, if you will. He got tired of doing all the setup and tear down and dealing with the sort of issues you guys are talking about. He bought a 30 foot trailer. One side drops down to become a stage. A door on each end of the stage side opens to expose a PA stack. PA is wired and permanent in the trailer. One cat five or wireless control depending on the local wifi reliability. The trailer has its own generator. A truss of lights come out of the ceiling horizontally on slides. Drums are bolted to the floor so they don't move during transport. All mics are wireless headsets and IEMs. Drive in, drop the side, power up the genny and ready to play in fifteen minutes or so. We pull the trailer with a small 8 person tour bus. Beds in the back, 4 a side vertically. Up front is a small sitting area. It has AC. Our deal was that we would normally use our rig for any outdoor events we were paid for, unless they had bigger and better. If so we used the other trailer load of gear. Since we had to practice somewhere, he built a two story "barn" type structure across the driveway from his house, and had grvavel parling lot put in for the bus, and both trailers. Also parking for maybe 15 cars. Downstairs is the work shed and storage facility. Stairs go above to 2nd floor which is one large room. He put in a bar, beer taps, 6 round six person tables, a reasonable stage on one end, and permanent wiring. We keep a small Midas in there for practice. A schlep set of drums, and some amps. We practice full shows there. If friends want to have a free party, we will only do it if they have it at our shed. Almost a private club type of setting and no setup, teardown, or power issues. If they insist it must be on their location, we only did it if we could pull the trailer in, and our bus. Band could stay cool in the AC unless playing, and everything else done in the stage trailer. Sounds glamorous but he didn't just spent a mint of money. We bought practice gear used. The bus cost about $15K used, and is used to travel for every show. The stage trailer was about $15k also, but whenever it is not in use, he can rent it to others to recoup investment. He spent a decent amount, $40k or so for the practice shed, but rolled it into the home financing, and will increase the value of his home if he sells it so not a big deal. Yea, the total was around $75K for everything, but the band did fairly well. we played regionally a lot, and nationally some. Shows from Venetian in Las Vegas, to FL, to upstate NY near Montreal. In the big scheme of things, with none of us depending on the band for normal income it was affordable. Also, that is the only way we ever found to have a band, keep our friends, not kill ourselves, and make money from outdoor shows where time is money.

 

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that is the only way we ever found to have a band, keep our friends, not kill ourselves, and make money from outdoor shows where time is money.

 

That is an awesome story but the punctuation (or more accurately the lack thereof) makes for a difficult read! :smiley-lol:

 

 

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I'd love to play backyard parties, it would take me back to those magic days of finding some one over 21 to buy the kegs, hoping the cops wouldn't bust up the party before we made our money back and having a blast along with our friends .....

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I do a lot of private parties. If I get two a week, I make more than 6 nights in a bar.

 

And a lot of them are back-yard parties (by the swimming pool). I make sure (1) I have AC power - although the new gear only sips it and (2) We are under cover because in Florida you can get a rainstorm with no warning.

 

Notes

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I treat 'em like any other gig. I've played a lot of backyard parties. They aren't much different than nightclubs IMO. Some pay next to nothing, have crappy power situations, cramped stage areas, and horrible load in situations. Others provide ample room, ample power and pay very well.

 

Choose to do whatever gigs you want to do for whatever reasons but just because they might be in someone's backyard shouldn't be the criteria.

 

Yeah, the load-ins are almost always gonna suck as you're pushing the gear over the gravel and across the stones and trying not to tear up their grass. Pretty much count on that. But as long as you go into making sure they've got enough space for you to set up and you tell them you need X-amount of power and they are paying you what you think is fair, then why not?

 

Some of the most fun gigs we've done have been in people's backyards. Some people have REALLY NICE backyards! And some people with really nice backyards have a LOT of money! A couple of years ago a guy hired us for his 50th birthday party and said it came down to a choice between hiring us or Foreigner and his wife convinced him a band like ours would not only cost less, but be more fun at a party. I figure if Foreigner is willing to play someone's backyard party, I can do it too....

 

And yeah...make sure they provide cover. Rain isn't an issue out here but bright direct sun that will melt your gear certainly is. Two 30-amp circuits, as big a stage area as they can manage and a cover over our heads and we're there if the price is right.

 

And we can play "Happy Birthday" in any key. :)

 

 

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I asked in OJ but got conflicting answers. What ARE the rules for backward panties?

 

Be a gentleman and help the lady get them back on straight before she goes home to her husband

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